It’s been raining a lot around here so far this December, and there’s a lot of water around. But Aunty spotted a break in the clouds and smelt the sun and so we escaped the Christmas build up and headed for the hills. Water plays a central part in many Welsh tales, many tinged with tragedy and touched by love lost. These tales can be linked to unexpected places, no more so than in South Wales near the heartlands of the old industrial and mining country. Gwladus was one of the many daughters of the 5th King Brycheinog. Gwladus fell in love with Einion, but because of his less than aristocratic station in society, Brycheiniog would not allow the two to marry. Distraught that her love was denied Gwladus threw herself into the river and drowned. A water fall then appeared at the site of the tragedy. Aunty and I have been here before but after all the rain this past week Afon Pyrddin was in full spate and Sgwd Gwladus was much more spectacular than the last time we were here.
The Pyrddin and Nedd Fechan valleys were once heavily mined for silica, used in creating fire bricks for the increasing number of iron foundries feeding the early stages of the Industrial Revolution. But it is difficult to find evidence of the toil and industry that once filled the valley. A few ruins hidden in the trees and entrances to the mines are all that can be seen today. It is now a beautiful place full of wildlife.
There are so many waterfalls in these valleys you’re spoilt for choice, and each one presents a unique view. Just below Sgwd Gwladus the Afon Pyrddin joins the Afon Nedd Fechan, and so with the promise of more to come we walked up the path and followed the Nedd Fechan up-stream. Passing Sgwd Ddwli Isaf before reaching Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf it was difficult to hear each other over the roar of the water as it rushed and flowed over the cliffs and rocks. The water crashing over the cliff face bought the name of the falls to life – the English translation are the Lower and Upper Gushing Falls.
Wales has it’s own rain forests and is now becoming well know for the wide variety of lichens and mosses growing in the forests, some of which are rare and found only in the wetter western areas of the Britain. I have long been fascinated by mosses, but fail miserably trying to identify them. But that doesn’t detract from from their beauty.
Until recently I used to think that moths were only on the wing from Spring through to Autumn, but they can be found all year round, though there are fewer species at this time of year. One of which is the Winter Moth, Operophtera brumata. I found one at on the moss covered base of a tree trunk. This is a male, the female is wingless. A little wet and worn, but clearly ready to carry on the next generation.